Mini-reviews of four Netflix Originals

November 2015 has been a big month for Netflix. The high profile releases are Jessica Jones and Master of None, but there’s also been w/ Bob and David, and River (which originally aired on the BBC), a new series by Chris Chibnall, the creator of Broadchurch. Since I can barely find time to keep up with shows I already know I like, I doubt I’ll be able to find time to even watch entire seasons of these. My solution is to watch at least the first episode of each show and give some first impressions on each. There are minor spoilers.

Master of None
Episodes watched: 5 of 10

When it came to Parks and Recreation, the character I had the most problems with was Tom Haverford. Everyone on Parks and Recreation was a cartoon, but Tom was the most grating. I’ve heard Aziz Ansari in interviews and he’s been great, but it wasn’t until I saw murmurings on Twitter that I knew that I should be looking out for this show. All the reviews I heard and read leading up to its premiere were great, and unsurprisingly I loved it – Aziz and co-creator Alan Yang have done a fantastic job. I wasn’t thrilled about the premiere, but I’d heard great things about the second episode. The episode that guaranteed I’d love this show however, was the fourth in the season, “Indians on TV” as Dev breaks the news to his fellow Indian Americans that the Indian actor in Short Circuit two was a white guy in brownface. Aziz isn’t trying to solve all of the world’s problems, but he gets you thinking about them, and it’s great.

Desire to keep watching: 8/10

Articles worth reading: An interview that Sonia Saraiya conducted with Alan Yang; Aziz Ansari’s piece in the New York Times; Mo Ryan’s piece on minorities behind the camera in television; Vivian Kane’s piece about Ansari’s interview on Colbert, and casting his parents in the who.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Episodes watched: 9 of 14

This show has utterly charmed me. If I didn’t have a goal to write every day, I’d either still be watching this show, or I would have already finished it. I think Joanna Robinson is great, but I disagree with her on this show. She said in her comic book podcast that she didn’t want to support a show just because of the existence of a ‘strong female character’, but I think the show around it is good as well. Of course this was a couple of weeks ago when the only people who had seen it were critics, so she was intentionally vague. I’d love to hear more of her thoughts in a spoiler-filled podcast. This role is perfect for Krysten Ritter, who had a part on Breaking Bad and one of the lead roles in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, and she’s great at both comedy and drama. I also really really love Mike Colter as Luke Cage. I love the casting of Tennant as the villain, it makes perfect sense to use him the way they did. That being said, I could see the revelation at the end of episode 7 coming from a mile away, and it annoyed me in its obvious. I did however keep watching, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Desire to keep watching: 9.5/10

Worth reading: Mo Ryan’s interview with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg.

W/ Bob and David
Episodes watched: 1 0f 5

I’m not really a huge sketch comedy fan and I haven’t seen any of Mr Show, but I love both Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, so I decided to check it out. It’s incredibly clever, and they do a great job, it’s just that I’m still not a huge fan of sketch comedy. Also it was really dude heavy. I liked the continuity of characters throughout the episode and seeing how well they succeeded at their New Year’s Resolutions, but there are other shows I’d rather watch.

Desire to keep watching: 5.5/10

River
Episodes watched: 1 0f 6

The premise of River is slightly intriguing – here’s a police detective (Stellan Skarsgard) who sees manifests of people who have died, and he’s still traumatised from watching the murder of one of his colleagues. River wants to track down the murderer, but he has his superiors and the counsellor to deal with, as well as other ongoing cases. I’m not sure if this is a case of the week kind of deal, but there was definitely one this week, and it was somewhat predictable. The use of literary references was quite heavy handed. For a police drama to hook me, there needs to be more than a twist like ‘he can see dead people’, and aside from that, there’s nothing new about this show.

Desire to keep watching: 2/10

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